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Stark raving mad: Diary of an unhinged Democrat

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 18, 2007 03:19 PM

Pete Stark

I noted Rep. Stark’s during my S-CHIP liveblogging, but it’s worth breaking out the rapid response from the GOP here in a separate post.

Before I do that, though, here’s a trip down memory lane from 2003. As I noted in my column back then, Democrats have given Stark a pass before. They’ll give him a pass again:

Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark (D-Calif.) is the foul-mouthed poster boy for Liberal Double Standards.

There he was on Capitol Hill last week, sounding more like Eminem than an eminent lawmaker, hurling epithets such as “fruitcake” and “c–ks—-r” at Republicans during a mark-up session on pension funds legislation of all things.

Most of the mainstream media coverage of the fracas has focused on the handling of the meeting by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas , who is accused by Democrats of summoning Capitol Hill police to the scene in order to prevent them from meeting in a committee library to discuss procedural objections.

But while Beltway types squabble about whether Thomas was technically out of order, Stark’s blatantly thuggish behavior has once again gotten a pass from the establishment Left.

According to an official committee transcript, Stark physically taunted fellow Ways and Means Committee member Scott McInnis (R-Colorado) while Thomas attempted to hold a voice vote on the bill at hand. In response to McInnis’ demand that Thomas be quiet while the bill was being read, Stark blurted out: “[O]h, you think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you.”

Further goading McInnis, a married Republican gentleman, Stark lashed out: “You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake.” According to Fox News Channel, witnesses say Stark then hurled a 10-letter homophobic insult at Thomas better suited for an anti-gay rap records than the Congressional Record. Stark’s press office refused to answer my questions on the record about these remarks…

…The silence over Stark is no surprise. Liberals have long looked the other way at Stark’s bigoted boorishness over the course of his three decades in public office. In 1995, when he called Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Connecticut) a “whore” for the insurance industry and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from “pillow talk” with her physician husband, not a single Democrat objected. Not a single of the proud feminists on Capitol Hill signed a letter, supported by 35 Republican House members, demanding that Stark apologize.

Nor did the Congressional Black Caucus emit a peep when Stark lambasted former Bush I Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, an accomplished doctor and medical researcher, as “a disgrace to his race and his profession” because he opposed Stark’s socialist health care schemes. “I guess I should feel ashamed because Congressman Stark thinks I am not a ‘good Negro,”‘ Sullivan observed after the 1990 incident. “As a Cabinet member who has spent almost four decades of my life dedicated to healing, … (I) am unable to express my own views without being subject to race-based criticism by those who are not ready to accept independent thinking by a black man.”

Then there was the time Stark attacked former conservative California state welfare director Eloise Anderson in 1999 as a baby-killer, complaining at a public forum that she would “kill children if she had her way” simply because she opposed cradle-to-grave government welfare entitlements. Not a single, finger-wagging editorial from the media elite about the need for decorum and decent behavior in public debate appeared in either the California or national op-ed pages.

The lesson couldn’t be more stark: Only the self-anointed preachers of tolerance and civility on the Left can have their fruitcake and eat it, too.

And remember this? I recounted this story, first reported by KSFO and Joel Mowbray, in Unhinged:

When Daniel Dow returned home Thursday evening, he noticed he had a voice mail message. To his great surprise, it was left by his Congressman, Pete Stark (D-CA), in response to a fax he had sent in an hour earlier.

But to Dow’s even greater surprise, the message was a smarmy smear, one in which Congressman Stark essentially called him stupid and implied that the enlisted man, who had just returned from Kosovo, did not care about enlisted men and women.

And now compounding the Congressman’s callousness, he has released an “apology” distinctly lacking anything resembling an apology.

Here’s a brief recap of the events:

- Thursday evening, the House voted on one of its typical resolutions supporting the troops in Iraq, but also condemning the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and calling for a full investigation.

- 16-term San Francisco liberal Pete “Fortney” Stark was one of 50 Congressmen to oppose the non-controversial resolution.

- Daniel Dow wrote an intelligent, though strongly worded letter expressing his outrage and faxed it to Rep. Stark’s office at 4:30pm PST.

- Dow stepped out for some errands, and upon returning home, he listened to his voice mail.

Thankfully, Dow thought on his feet and provided the recording to San Francisco-based talk radio station KSFO. The story caught fire, and by midday Friday, even Rush Limbaugh was talking about it.

Listening to the choice language Stark used, it’s easy to see why. He started out his 53-second message telling Dow, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Stark then informs the enlisted man, “So if you care about enlisted people, you wouldn’t have voted for that thing, either.”

Perhaps such “stark” language might be acceptable responding to a blowhard or an ad hominem attack, but then again, no Congressman would ever waste his time calling such a constituent. (As a practical matter, calls from Congressmen are extremely rare, and Stark is Exhibit A as to why.)

But Dow’s letter, though unequivocal in its criticism, was eloquent, passionate, and intelligent. It might have savaged Stark’s nutty “no” vote on the resolution, but there was not a single personal attack.

If only the Congressman could say the same.

Stark stooped to name-calling, chastising his constituent as an idiot: “Probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter and somebody wrote it for you. So I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

Near the middle of his rambling message, the Congressman promised Dow, “But I’ll call you back later.” Why? Stark explained, “[To] let you tell me why you think you’re such a great, god-damned hero.” (Stark did not call back.)

And now this:

“I yield myself two minutes. Madam speaker, I, first of all, I’m just amazed that they can’t figure out — the Republicans are worried that they can’t pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war? You don’t have money to fund the war on children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if he can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement.”

Don’t question his patriotism. Question his sanity.

Tell me again: Who’s coarsening the debate?

Hmmm?

***

GOP reax…

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement today after Rep. Fortney H. “Pete” Stark, D-Calif., suggested on the floor of the House that Republicans are sending men and women to Iraq “to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

“Pete Stark’s statements on the House floor this afternoon crossed all lines of decency and decorum. As a member of Congress, he should be ashamed. But as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee – and the current chairman of its Health subcommittee – the Democratic leadership ought to be ashamed as well.

“To claim our men and women in Iraq are serving there for the president’s own personal enjoyment – and worse, to suggest he’s actually ‘amused’ by the image of soldiers being killed – represents a crass appeal to the worst, most base elements of our population. It dishonors the continued sacrifice of our troops in the field, and disrespects their family and friends at home who pray for their safe return. The Democratic leadership should denounce these comments immediately, and Mr. Stark should apologize for making them as well.”

NOTE: Earlier today, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif, made the following remarks at the podium while managing time for the majority on the SCHIP veto vote: “You’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

***

Congressman Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, called on Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the entire Democrat leadership to condemn a statement made on the House floor by Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark in which referred to the “President’s amusement” in seeing American servicemen “get their heads blown off” while serving in Iraq. In addition, Hensarling called on Congressman Stark to immediately apologize for his hateful comments or resign from office. Early today, during House consideration of a bill on children’s healthcare, Stark made the following comments:

“I yield myself two minutes. Madam speaker, I, first of all, I’m just amazed that they can’t figure out — the Republicans are worried that they can’t pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war? You don’t have money to fund the war on children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if he can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement.”

RSC Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) issued the following statement: “Congressman Stark’s comments were hateful and wrong, and should be labeled as such by the House Democrat Leadership. No matter your political position on the war in Iraq or any other issue, it shows a complete disregard for the men and women who have volunteered for military service and the Office of the Presidency to make such an outlandish and asinine statement. “Congressman Stark’s comments are completely inappropriate for an elected official. He should offer an immediate apology, or he should resign from the office in which he has been entrusted to serve. He owes that to the men and women who have so courageously put their life on the line to serve their country and the families that support them.”

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